After the NBA took the day off on Turkey Day, Friday’s 13-game slate figured to be a monster. While I could probably write 20 or so pages on what went down, I’m just going to hit the big ones with 10 things we learned last night.
1. Injuries and fantasy still mix like oil and water
“Doesn’t it feel like there are more injuries this season, and they’re happening to bigger names?” I hear it every year at this time, but my answer is usually the same – Nope, it just feels that way because it’s happening right now. Injuries are as big a part of fantasy hoops as anything else, and it can be argued that your injury luck is more important than your draft. Here’s the link for the entire injury report, while here are a few injury highlights from Friday night.
Eric Bledsoe finally returned and scored 19 points off the Suns bench.
James Harden was back at it, but scored just nine for the Rockets.
Houston’s Jeremy Lin will miss two weeks with his knee injury.
Deron Williams (ankle) isn’t even traveling with the Nets.
Ditto for Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, while Kevin Garnett also rested last night.
Brook Lopez played and had 16 points, but just one rebound for the awful Nets.
J.J. Redick went down with a wrist injury, which allowed Jamal Crawford to go nuts.
Chris Paul sat out with his hamstring injury and remains day-to-day for the Clips.
Monta Ellis is playing through a sore ankle for Dallas, but doesn’t look right.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is dealing with plantar fasciitis, leaving him day-to-day.
Ty Lawson had X-rays on his right ankle last night, leaving him iffy for Sunday.
Lakers PF Jordan Hill went down with a nasty ankle sprain and should miss time.
Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova went down with a hamstring injury.
Caron Butler missed Friday with a sore knee, and the Bucks are still awful.
Nene rested a sore Achilles and was due for a night off for the Wiz.
Tony Parker sat with a sore ankle for the Spurs.
Jameer Nelson was out with a sore foot for the Magic.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Saturday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Saturday. Here's the FanDuel link.
2. So what you’re saying is I still have a chance
Derrick Williams not only made his debut for the Kings on Friday, but was in the starting lineup at small forward, where he put up 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes on 6-of-13 shooting. I picked up Williams in a few leagues when he was traded and plan to hold him until we see how this shakes out. Let’s remember he’s a former No. 2 pick and was a freak in college. The Kings have been desperate at small forward for years and Williams has a real chance to do something here. And while he hasn’t been known for doing anything outside of scoring some points, I think he has the potential to put it all together and become one of the waiver-wire steals of the year. I’m not predicting that he’ll lead your team to fantasy glory, but I do think there’s a chance it could happen.
3. Big men rule
DeMarcus Cousins only had two games this week, meaning he was on a lot of weekly-league benches (including mine), which hurt last night when he went off for 25 points, nine boards, six assists and three blocks in an overtime loss to the Clippers. In the same game, DeAndre Jordan went nuts on the Kings, finishing with 10 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks, just missing one of the most enjoyable triple-doubles in fantasy. Jordan’s breakout season continues, despite the fact he can’t hit a free throw. Al Jefferson may not be the most hated center in fantasy any longer. He’s finally back on the court and hit 11-of-18 shots for 23 points and 12 rebounds on Friday. He didn’t have a block, but at this point, owners will take the 23 & 12 and walk away satisfied every time. Serge Ibaka also stayed hot with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four more blocks. I haven’t heard many complaints about the way Scott Brooks is using Ibaka this season, which is nice.
The ankle injury Jordan Hill suffered looked terrible and was the reason that little known Shawne Williams tore it up for 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, a block and six 3-pointers off the Lakers bench. Yes, he’s worth a flier in many leagues, but only if you have a player you’ve been wanting to drop. The chances of Williams doing this on the regular aren’t good.
And while he’s not a big man, Russell Westbrook came up huge last night, keeping a ball alive on a rebound, tracking down the loose ball and then launching a fall away 3-pointer at the buzzer that won it for the Thunder, leaving the Warriors shocked. It was the play of the night.
4. You, you’re not good
Hello, my name is Rotoworld and I was drinking the Patrick Beverley Kool-Aid. Beverley played 24 minutes with Jeremy Lin in street clothes, but still managed just five points, four rebounds and one assist in the Rockets win over the Nets. It’s still early, but it’s quickly become clear that one of our biggest misses thus far is Beverley. And it wasn’t just one or two of us. The whole staff thought big things were coming for Beverley, and so far, we were just wrong. And even though Lin’s going to miss time, it looks like it will be Aaron Brooks who reaps the rewards, while Beverley just keeps hanging around, playing some defense and ho-humming us all to sleep. As I wrote in a Wednesday blurb, I’m sick of trying to apologize for Beverley. He showed so much promise last season and still has enough talent to turn it around, but his lack of enthusiasm on the offensive end of the floor has made him very tough to own in fantasy. I’m not ready to drop him yet, but he’s no longer placed upon a pedestal, either. And if you want to drop him for Aaron Brooks or Derrick Williams, you won’t get much of an argument from me. I feel better now.
5. Messed around and got a triple-double
Jordan Crawford is quietly having a dreamy season and had the first triple-double of his career last night with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He hit just 4-of-14 shots and one 3-pointer, but also committed just two turnovers for the Celtics. He has three more double-digit assist games than Damian Lillard (who hasn’t had one yet this season) and is returning seventh-round fantasy value. That should all change once Rajon Rondo is back from his knee surgery, but if you took a flier on Crawford and stuck with him, nice work.
6. Knight Moves
Brandon Knight actually played for the Bucks last night, and as if that wasn’t a big enough story, he actually looked like he remembered how to play basketball. Knight started at point guard and finished with 17 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a 3-pointer on 7-of-11 shooting. I don’t trust anyone on the Bucks right now, but at least it was nice to see signs of life out of Knight, who hadn’t done anything this season, mainly because he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury since opening night. If you need a PG and he was dropped in your league, think about grabbing him.
7. Going Green
We were very high on Jeff Green coming into the season and he’s been hit or miss on a nightly basis. Friday night was a hit, as he got loose for 31 points, five boards, two assists and two 3-pointers on 10-of-19 shooting, and also hit 9-of-13 free throws. Don’t look now, but he’s averaging 21 points, 5.2 boards and 1.4 3-pointers over his last five games on 47 percent shooting. It looks like he might finally be getting comfortable in Brad Stevens’ offense and it’s time to put him in weekly lineups and hope he keeps it going.
8. The Waiting
So Dion Waiters wore out his welcome in Cleveland, got into it with Tristan Thompson, disappeared for a couple days, and his name was showing up in every trade rumor that involved the NBA. But instead of shutting it down and slumping off into the sunset, Waiters has actually gotten better. He had 21 points, six dimes and a 3-pointer last night, after scoring 24 with four 3-pointers on Wednesday. He’s averaging 16 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 3-pointers over his last four games. He will hurt you in turnovers (3.8 per game in last five) and field goal shooting (.397 last five), but could be a sweet pick up if he was dropped in your league.
9. Who wore it worst?
So the Nets and Bucks are, by far, the hardest two teams to watch in the NBA this season. Jason Kidd’s terrible acting job after telling Tyshawn Tyler to “hit me” was a joke, and he backed that up with another embarrassing loss that featured him benching his entire starting five, sans Brook Lopez, in Friday’s disaster against the Rockets. Half the team is hurt, the other half doesn’t seem to care and it simply looks like Kidd is in over his head. The Nets are 4-12 on the season.
Then there are Larry Drew’s hapless Bucks, who fell to 2-13 after a beat down by the mighty Charlotte Bobcats last night. Ersan Ilyasova is hurt again, Khris Middleton, like Donnie from The Big Lebowski, looks like he’s out of his element, and John Henson isn’t being used properly. Caron Butler was out with a sore knee last night and outside of the rare Knight sighting, nothing looks good in Milwaukee right now.
I would advise you to stay away from all the players on both teams, as even the once reliable Andray Blatche and Shaun Livingston were benched by Kidd last night and failed to score a point between them. With so many good stories in the NBA this season, these two teams represent the worst things about the league thus far. And if you think Drew’s about to get fired, you might want to think again. The Bucks obviously picked the right guy to lead them to draft lottery gold, and are paying him handsomely to do so.
10. Sweet Lou
I get a ton of Twitter questions about Lou Williams, especially after he started last night in place of the ailing Kyle Korver. He had 12 points and one 3-pointer on 4-of-8 shooting in 25 minutes. He’s still not playing in back-to-backs, will be perpetually listed as day-to-day, and the 12 points he scored last night were a season high. I think he’ll be a decent source of points and threes at some point this season, but I’m just not racing out to pick him up in any league. I want guys I can rely on to be out there every night and produce, and Sweet Lou just isn’t one of those right now.
There are seven games on Saturday night, starting at 7:30 ET when the Cavs host the Bulls. Enjoy.